Sawara Falsecypress, Sawara False Cypress, or Japanese Falsecypress
(Cupressaceae - Cypress Family)
- usually a medium- to large-sized evergreen shrub
- the species form, which is rarely available in the nursery trade, is a 60' tall by 20' wide tree, but the small, medium, and large shrub forms commonly available in the trade range from 3' to 20' tall by similar widths, depending upon cultivar
- upright pyramidal to pendulous irregular growth habits, depending upon cultivar
- slow growth rate
- full sun to partial sun
- prefers moist, well-drained, neutral to slightly acidic soils, but is adaptable to poor soils, dry soils, alkaline soils, compacted soils, heat, and drought
- propagated by rooted stem cuttings
- Cypress Family, with few disease or pest problems
- commonly available in containers or ball and burlap form, with many cultivars
- scale-like or awl-like leaves press close to the thready stems (for 'Filifera'
or 'Mop' types) or fluffy, short, juvenile-foliaged-type needles stick out from the stems (for 'Boulevard' types)
- "evergreen" although the foliage of many cultivars is yellow, gold, or blue-silver in color
- ornamentally inconspicuous
- ornamentally inconspicuous
- thin and brown, and often hidden by the foliage
- often not seen on the cultivar forms, being somewhat hidden by the evergreen foliage, but exfoliating in thin reddish-brown strips on larger specimens
- ID Summary
- a plant whose species form would be unrecognizable to most horticulturists, since the odd-looking cultivars are the exclusive selections in the nursery trade; two common types exist:
- Threadleaf types, which have stringy, pendulous combinations of awl-like or scale-like foliage, of either green or golden-yellow color, on broadly spreading shrubs
- Squarrosa types, with short, fluffy, twisting-needle type foliage that is usually blue-silver, on upright shrubs with a central leader
- focal point, specimen, entranceway, or foundation shrub
- fine texture
- thick density
- foliage color variants that are "evergreen"
- variable growth habits for different cultivars
- yellow-foliaged types, which must be placed in full sun for best color, are prone to winterburn without protection from the Winter sun and harsh winds
- 'Boulevard' has its dead interior needles remain on the stems, which gives an untidy appearance
- zones 4 to 8
- native to Japan
- foliage color variant shrubs that are "evergreen" (Abies koreana 'Horstmann's Silberlocke', Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Crippsii', Juniperus chinensis 'Saybrook Gold', Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star', Pinus syvestris 'Glauca Nana', Thuja occidentalis 'Rheingold', etc.)
- the native species is 60' tall by 20' wide with green-colored foliage that occurs in "sprays", rarely seen in Western cultivation and rarely available in the nursery trade
- a sampling of common cultivars that look totally unlike the species form are:
- Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Boulevard' (also known as 'Cyanoviridis' or 'Squarrosa Cyano-viridis') - Blue False Cypress - foliage is composed of tight, fluffy clusters of silver-blue short needles (as are many of the 'Squarrosa' types), forming a pyramidal habit to 12' tall by 5' wide, with the liability of interior foliage being persistent, dead, tan-colored, and quite visible; it can be removed by rubbing the stems with a gloved hand, but this becomes increasingly difficult as the shrub grows in size
- Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Filifera' - usually 6' tall by 8' wide but can be larger; green foliage is scale-like, covering thin pendulous stems with an overall semi-weeping habit
- Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Mops' (also known as 'Gold Mop' or 'Golden Mops') - Mops False Cypress - yellow scale-like foliage covers the thin pendulous (mop-like) stems with a relatively low semi-weeping habit, slowly maturing to 5' tall by 7' wide; the golden-yellow color stays that way if the plant is sited in full sun, unlike many other "golden" cultivars (such as 'Filifera Aurea Nana') which fade by mid-Summer to yellow-green or green-chartreuse; unfortunately, the exposure of 'Mops' in full sun also makes it prone to winterburn in northern climates, creating unattractive yellow-brown foliage throughout much of the Winter
- Chamaecyparis translates as "low-growing Cypress".
- pisifera translates as "pea bearing", referring to the small cones of the species form.
- Sawara Falsecypress, a large tree in its native Japan, is often represented by selections of its various evergreen shrubs, which themselves exhibit differences in foliage color (blue, yellow, and green), size, and growth habit (upright, spreading, and/or pendulous).
- Chamaecyparis pisifera is known for its smaller evergreen variants which are shrubs that have distinctive growth habits and vibrant foliage colors.
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